Pakistan social media was ablaze after an appeals court has acquitted the brother of social media star Qandeel Baloch of her murder. Her 2016 killing sparked national outrage and sparked changes in laws covering so-called “honour killings”.
Her brother, Mohammed Waseem appealed his 2019 life sentence and murder conviction, after major witnesses recanted their testimonies. An appeals court in Multan struck down the conviction, defence lawyer Sardar Mehboob said without elaborating. The government prosecutor confirmed the judgment.
Additionally, his mother had submitted a statement to the court stating that she had pardoned him for the “honour killing” of his sister. The mother’s statement was not mentioned in the court’s decision.
One of the major changes in the country’s laws regarding honour killings was that no one could be freed solely by a family member’s pardon.
Qandeel angered conservative Muslims in Pakistan
In a 2016 media conference, Waseem confessed to strangling his 26-year-old sister because of her social media activities.
Baloch had written in her Facebook posts that she wanted to change “the typical orthodox mindset” of conservative Muslim people. Although she was frequently sent death threats, she continued posting provocative pictures and videos on Facebook.
On the strength of her social media fame, she developed a modelling career, but this drew ire from many conservative Muslims.
The country was rocked by her death and social media exploded with grief, causing the Pakistani government to tighten laws dealing with relatives killed for family honour.
Each year, hundreds of Pakistani women are killed by their families for perceived offences to honour, including elopement, fraternization with men outside marriage, and other actions that violate conservative Muslim values on female modesty.
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